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Developing New Horizons



It may sound somewhat sacrilegious, but in order to begin any redesign project one must first acknowledge the past AND then dissect its shortcomings. Even though there is an enormous amount of admiration associated with all things EPCOT Center, there are several aesthetics of 30 years ago that just would not work as-is in today’s world. In the case of Horizons’ Line Art, the icon below served as the inspiration behind the architectural icons (originally used for the Vista Series of desktops). However, (and as discussed earlier) the style of the pavilion icons evolved beyond the original inspiration.  The original Horizons icon (from 1983), is too simplistic and bulky for the E82 set. The following image features several reasons why it wouldn’t fit-in…


At this point it’s important to note that the Original 1983 Icon is a beautifully designed icon and it works wonderfully for multiple uses and a variety of applications. Additionally, the icon for this attraction was designed before the building was completed and the original graphic designer worked off of limited resources to complete the final image. These notes work as a starting point for my process and do not seek to demean the look of the design or critique the work of a master designer who did their work without the precision and tools found in Adobe Illustrator.

Lets be completely honest, whenever you create representational art, you’re only as good as your sources. I’ve done a few of these pavilions using photo reference, which is challenging (at best). Not so surprisingly, the best way to create an architectural icon, is to use architectural elevation schematics, or in laymen’s terms – blueprints. (When working with photos, the simplest act of finding the right placement of a corner can be very difficult.) In short, blueprints take a lot of the guesswork out of the equation. 

Graphical Design, of this type, is basically figuring out what details you want and omitting those that you don’t.  (In order for the design to work one should be omitting a lot more than he/she keeps.) For this Pavilion, I wanted the main features like the GRFC Bents, the Overhangs, and the VIP Windows but not much else. Based on these requirements I came up with this…


Well? ... That was simple enough, perhaps a little too simple.  In order to “ground” the structure (and also to avoid making it look like a futuristic tent), I tried an extremely minimalistic first pass of adding the “storefront windows”…  

To quote Lynda.com instructor Deke McClelland, “Now, … at this point … this looks like Garbage!”
This addition, made the line-art way too grounded. As a solution, I decided to try the reverse – focusing on the frames of the windows rather than the windows themselves. Up until now, I’ve purposely stayed away from practical details like doorways, stairs and other non-spectacular items. However, Horizons, was looking entirely too simple, thus some concessions have to be made. (It’s at points like this that I have to remind myself that even thought all of Future World’s pavilions have/had a uniform style they were all still different from each other and therefore should be treated differently.) Furthermore, considering I was now going to incorporate ALL the windows, I could now include the awnings that served as a wonderful juxtaposition of angles with the overhangs above…

OK, that looks good, (and thanks to having the proper materials) it only took a several hours over a couple of nights to make it happen. As our British friends say, “let’s knock off early!” – Not so fast Mr. Harris! My version of Horizons does appear to be an “improvement” of the original, but is not as unique as it could be. Most importantly it’s Not as unique as it should be.

Originally, I conceived the E82 Pavilions as rigidly displayed on a single line and very analogous to a typeface. By the time I got to my third pavilion I was already breaking that rule. Now, the series was (to continue the type parlance) to include Descenders. As such, I thought it would be best to mirror The Land, by incorporating Horizons’ hillside. The blueprints I had did not include the planters and hillside, but it was ultimately for the best as a literal translation just wasn’t going to work out. Because the hill was a pedestal for the pavilion it was necessary to keep any amount of detail at an absolute minimum. Originally, I wanted the hill to follow the same through-line as the building profile. Although dramatic, this design choice was not wise in relationship to the other pavilions. If executed, it would create an enormous gap between Horizons and its neighboring pavilions. In short, Horizons would not play well with others! Unlike the rest of the building itself these simple eleven lines took another week to develop!


The biggest difference between the blueprint and the Line-Art is the spacing of the Bents, which was exaggerated to portray a more rounded/dimensional form. Furthermore, you’ll also notice that the negative space around the bents is used to enhance the overall effect as well as the angles of the window awnings.

Many of the pavilions of Future World feature sometimes not-so-subtle symbolism. Whether it is the futuristic greenhouse of The Land, the ocean waves of The Living Seas, or the wheel-shaped World of Motion, the architecture itself revealed the subject matter of the attractions themselves.
In the case of Horizons, many guide books and ephemera referred to the building as a “gem-like spaceship.” The original GE advertisements portray the structure as nothing short of a Close Encounters-style alien spaceship from the 21st Century - A “Futureprobe” permanently moored at EPCOT.
The original line-art of the pavilion looked very much like its symbolic intensions. The E82 version had the dual objectives of both representing the original structure and continuing the spaceship motif. The lower storefront windows are intended to represent the gravity cancelling under-mechanisms of ships like those found in Forbidden Planet. (This reference will be a lot more apparent in future applications.)
Furthermore, the planters and walkways of the hillside were designed to resemble scorched-earth marks of so many rocket ships of the last century. Consequently, this is also one of the biggest reasons why it took so much longer to create/visualize this aspect of the design. 


The E82 version of Horizons is by no means perfect, but simply an attempt to bring Horizons into the century it stool in praise of. If you’ve stayed with me this long, I’m impressed! Thank You! And I hope you’ll look forward this icon’s first use – in not One but Two editions to the Epcot Vista Series!

Reader Comments (4)

This looks great! Can't wait to swap out my current desktop for it!

February 13, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermatt

Absolutely brilliant!! Great job.

February 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

Awesome! Amazing! I can't come up with enough superlatives to express how cool this is!

February 20, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterfutureprobe1982

Coming from you "Mr Futureprobe", that means A LOT!
Thanks for the support, David!

February 23, 2012 | Registered CommenterJoshua L Harris

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